Whether you work at home or in the corporate world, I hope you’re planning on allowing yourself some downtime to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family in just a couple of weeks. Everyone needs a little time to unplug, relax, and reflect on life, and there’s no better time than the holidays to do just that.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family; an opportunity to recognize and celebrate all the blessings in our lives. But sadly, because of the demands of the holiday, along with the pressure we put on ourselves to make it a perfect day, what most people end up feeling on Thanksgiving is stress, not blessings.
So how can you avoid those negative feelings this year and truly have a pleasant, peaceful holiday? I’ve got some great tips for you for a low-stress Thanksgiving.
How to Plan a Low-Stress Thanksgiving
1. Keep Dinner Simple
The number one way to have a low-stress holiday is to keep your Thanksgiving dinner menu simple. Don’t try to cook up three proteins, eight sides, and six desserts. That’s so much work, and let’s be honest, nobody needs that much food. Instead, try to make only 4 or 5 dishes, total. If you usually make a bunch of extra dishes to meet your guests’ dietary preferences or requirements, see if you can find a way to combine requirements. For example, make a single dish that is both gluten free and dairy free, rather than 2 separate dishes. If you find creating food for everyone’s dietary requirements too complex, consider asking each guest bring to one side or dessert of their choosing.
2. Take a Breather
Thanksgiving can become pretty hectic, especially during the last few hours of preparing the meal. Do your best to find time for at least one break so you can catch your breath. One suggestion is to plan your cooking schedule so that the oven will be occupied for a half hour, so you have time to go sit down and relax a bit. You’re definitely going to need a little bit of self-care in order to get through the day with a minimum amount of stress and exhaustion.
3. Avoid Drama
Part of the fun of Thanksgiving is having people over, but if we’re being honest, we know sometimes that might include people that you don’t necessarily enjoy spending time with. Hey, it’s just a fact of life. If you want to have a low-stress Thanksgiving, do your best to ensure that you and your family are on their best behavior and there’s no drama on the menu. If that means avoiding particular subjects, or learning to just smile and nod, so be it. Put your differences aside for the sake of peace. It’s just one day, and not having arguments or fights will help keep your Thanksgiving pleasant. You’ll get through it, I promise!
4. Plan Early
The earlier you start planning your Thanksgiving celebration, the less stressful your holiday will be. Planning your guest list and your menu well in advance of Turkey Day will give you time to make sure you have all the ingredients you need, and will allow you to ensure the day’s itinerary is set up to move smoothly. I’ve got a fun free menu planner for you here.
5. Get Up Early
It’s a good idea to start your Thanksgiving work appropriately early. That may mean cooking things ahead of time, freezing them, then defrosting and warming them up on Thanksgiving Day. Or it could just mean getting up extra early on Thanksgiving morning to put the turkey in the oven and do the other prep work. Whatever you do, don’t expect to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner in two hours. Start early, and allow extra time for unexpected issues.
Also prepare for guests ahead of time. Thirty minutes before the cousins arrive is not the time to be deep cleaning the guest bathroom!
6. Stick to a Budget
Sometimes Thanksgiving is stressful because it costs so much. To help reduce money-related stress this year, make a budget and stick to it. Don’t overspend on decor, ingredients, or items to furnish guest rooms. If you’re traveling, research ways to save on your travel costs. Being prepared in advance really will help to avoid unforeseen expenses, and planning early is almost always more cost-effective than last minute arrangements.
7. Travel Smart
If you hope to have a low-stress Thanksgiving but you’re going to be traveling, then you need to travel smart. Expect airplane delays, prepare for forgotten toothbrushes, and be ready for hotels and flights to fill up fast. Don’t wait until the last minute to make your travel plans, or to pack, and give yourself extra time for all the possible issues that come with traveling on a major holiday.
What tips do you have for creating a fun, stress-free Thanksgiving? I’d love for you to share them in a comment below.
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